Police release new details in Hilinski’s death

WSU offers counseling for student-athletes, staff affected

REBECCA WHITE, Evergreen assistant news editor

Pullman police confirmed that redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski used a rifle taken from a teammate without their knowledge to kill himself last week.

Hilinski was reportedly last seen by a teammate on Jan. 16, when the teammate dropped him off at school Tuesday morning. When Hilinksi didn’t arrive at practice six hours later, coaches attempted to call him, according to a news release.

At about 4 p.m., police received a call asking for a welfare check on Hilinski. Just before officers arrived, two football players forced their way into Hilinksi’s apartment when he didn’t answer the door. The players discovered Hilinski’s body as officers arrived.

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said the department was not releasing details at this time on whether the gun, a .223 rifle, was safely stored or how it was obtained. In an earlier release, police noted a suicide note had been found, but state law prohibits sharing the note.

Cougar fans nationwide, as well as opposing teams, tweeted their condolences using the #RIP3 hashtag. Hundreds of community members, students and faculty gathered to pay their respects to Hilinski at two vigils last week, held at the Cougar Pride statue.

Associate Athletic Director Bill Stevens said WSU Athletics had been proactive in providing mental health services to student-athletes.

“We’ve basically given them around-the-clock mental health care since the crisis began,” Stevens said.

In the last week, he said they have met with every team, as well as staff, to connect them with counseling resources.

In an email sent out to WSU Athletics employees from Director of Athletic Medicine Sunday Henry, the department offered encouragement and provided contacts for athletes and employees to connect with if they, or someone they know, needs support.

“We remain committed to supporting you during this time,” the email read. “The next few weeks are a critical time for ourselves and our student-athletes. The 2-3 weeks following a crisis is well known high risk time period. Experiencing breakdowns, feeling depressed or emotionally upset, recurrence of previous mental health concerns and suicidality are not uncommon. Please know you are not alone.”

For those in need of emotional support, the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is a confidential service.

WSU Counseling and Psychological Services can also be reached online at counsel.wsu.edu and over the phone after hours at 509-335-2159.

People with concerns about another’s well-being can contact WSU’s AWARE Network at aware.wsu.edu, which can help students deal with personal tragedies, mental health concerns, drug abuse and more.